Bionic Woman

Movement is as vital to me as breathing.

Ask any physical therapist or doctor I’ve ever had the privilege of consulting. They understand VERY quickly that to restrict or eliminate movement for me is like asking me if I need to breathe.

Ben, the gifted physical therapist at Athletico realized very quickly when I consulted him about ankle pain (almost two years ago) that some sort of movement kept me sane. He encouraged me at every step to do what I could that wouldn’t cause additional pain. “If something hurts when you are doing it, stop.”

Between the two of us we modified every exercise you can imagine. He kept me moving through ankle tendinitis and an inflamed levator (shoulder) for months. While working on my ankles, I could hike uneven trails easily. It was paved paths that caused pain with their repetitive movements.

But this latest injury in December stopped me cold in my tracks. It literally benched me.

Like many others, I work out for the mental and emotional benefits as much as for the strength. I actually enjoy sweating, moving, and challenging my body in new ways. This past year I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Lifting weights and body weight exercises became important for yet another reason. Building strong bones is now imperative for my health.

For years I went to at least 3 strength training classes a week. Along the way and many injuries, I stopped going and instead enjoyed mat Pilates, hot yoga, dance, and barre classes. With the new diagnosis I decided to try weight training classes again. It was no surprise that I loved them. They were 45 minutes of upper and lower body and core exercises with a minute of cardio in between sets. I started attending one class a week and then upped it to two.

Then I realized that on Saturday mornings there was a class that combined cardio and strength training. The cardio was more fun than I had imagined, and I loved it. It made me giggle, though, because we had to remove weights from the step we were using, and I couldn’t even lift the weights to move them!

For weeks, this routine made me happy.

And then came pickleball.

I loved pickleball from the minute I tried it. Not having played sports growing up (the choices were field hockey or tennis, I opted for dance team), I fell in love with the comradery, the new skill, the people, and the sport. I loved pickleball. I started playing once a week, twice a week, three times a week. Usually, I would attend yoga or strength training first to warm up.

And the one hour of play turned into two.

I could feel my pickleball skills getting better and better.

Somewhere along the line, tendinitis in both ankles flared. I used ice to calm it down and saw a physical therapist.

One day in Pilates mat class I crossed my left ankle over my right knee to stretch and almost jumped out of my skin. There was pain to the touch.

I used ice. And more ice. I soaked my ankles in the bathtub.

This pain never decreased or went away and so in late December I found myself at the Washington University Sports Injury Clinic. Two Doogie Howser orthopedic doctors took a look at my ankles. They ordered x-rays.

Nothing showed up so they attributed it to tendinitis, suggested ankle stabilizers and to stop pickleball.
I did so grudgingly. They said just for a little while.

They also ordered an MRI because the left ankle was sore to the touch.

Dr. Howser called me on December 23rd and said, “You have a small, tiny, hairline almost-fracture in your left ankle. You need to rest and wear a tall boot.”


He continued, “A boot for 4-6 weeks. No ankle stabilizers. No classes except mat Pilates and yoga ON the mat-no balancing. No squats, lunges, jumping or running. And no pickleball.”

It was December 23rd, and they would be closed the next day. Luckily (yes), I had a tall boot from years ago when I sprained an ankle. I immediately put it on and remembered how challenging it was to move in that boot.

I was leaving town on December 25th and packed the tall boot. I wore my ankle stabilizers through the airport-both ways security stopped me and asked me to take them off (glad they did!)

My friend Chuck, whom I was visiting for the week took exceptionally good care of me. He grocery shopped and cooked, and I limped around in my tall boot!

Arriving home, I had a month to go in the boot. After that month, the orthopedic doctor wanted to see me to confirm the bone was healing and agreed physical therapy would be a good idea.

I actually got quite used to only doing surrender yoga classes and mat Pilates, staying seated even if the class stood. At least I could get to the gym and be among people.

At this time, I also started my business, so I spent quite a bit of time sitting at my computer. This assisted in the healing.

And the end of the six weeks, the bone had healed, and the physical therapist (Keaton at Spirit Physical Therapy) helped with exercises to make the tendonitis manageable. He also worked on my shoulder with manipulations and stretching, including at-home exercises. His goal was to make both ankles stronger.

Bones heal.

Tendinitis also will heal.

Keaton and I worked hard and eventually I was able to try a yoga class-success! -and a basic weightlifting class-success! – Gradually, I added in weightlifting classes and cardio classes-one thing at a time. I could even dance and began walking again.

As for pickleball, the orthopedic suggested waiting it out. With osteoporosis, the chance of injury again increased. I had to really think about what activities were priority for me. Yoga…I needed yoga to breathe easy. I needed the weightlifting, Pilates, and strength training for all around training. Dancing is part of my very being, so adding that was important.

As I write this, five months later, I can hike, bike, and participate in all the activities I love.

Pickleball will have to wait.

I went dancing two weeks ago and had the time of my life!


Once again, I am bionic. With time, ice, the help of a physical therapist and modern medicine as well as my desire to heal my body, I am bionic and moving and grooving again. Expect Good. Sparkle On.

About Pam Wilson

I've been writing since I can remember. At heart, I am a story-teller; making sense of my world, finding humor and light through writing. Now I help clients to write their own stories. As I continue my own writing journey, my passion is to help clients write their own stories.